“April is the cruelest month”…..T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, 1922

It’s been almost a century since this poem was written, but there is truth in the poet’s assertion. April can be warm….or cold. Flowers can bloom, then be covered with snow. Trees can bud, then be nipped by a sudden frost.

Brian McKnight, who presented our program on March 13, noted that April 1865 was a mixed blessing for soldiers. True, almost all organized warfare ceased, so the risk of dying in uniform significantly decreased. The soldiers wanted to go home, and immediately at that. But many had hundreds of miles to travel, and especially in the South buildings had been destroyed and infrastructure, such as it was to start with, wrecked. So they walked. But then there were no seeds or draft animals, and it was past planting season. This guaranteed hunger if not starvation in the winter to come.

As students of the Civil War and members of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, April has special interest for us. The general public accepts the month as the beginning and end of the conflict, Fort Sumter and Appomattox. The deadline for applications for the annual Dot Kelly Preservation Award is April 2. On April 7 Roundtable members will participate in our annual Spring Clean-Up at Fort Dickerson. A slate of officers who have generously volunteered to serve our club next year will be officially announced at the April 10 meeting. Ken Burns, whose 1990 documentary movie The Civil War rekindled America’s interest in this watershed period of history, will speak at The Tennessee Theatre on April 17. And at 2 pm on April 29, Dr. Joan Markel will lecture on “Soldiers and Civilians,” her final topic for this year, at McClung Museum on the University of Tennessee campus.

Of course the centerpiece of April for the Roundtable is our monthly dinner meeting on April 10. Our special guest and speaker will be the inimitable Dr. James “Bud” Robertson, who is certainly one of the premier historians and lecturers of the Civil War. Also on April 10 we’ll celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the founding of our club, complete with cake, costumed living history interpreters, and other special events.

Elsewhere in this newsletter are more details about these events, plus our continuing problem with dinner reservations. Please review them.

John Burkhart, President